Carson Design Associates Blog

Preparing the Future of Interior Design

AUTHOR: Carson Design Associates - Indy   POST DATE:
(Pictured From Right: Julie Berry, Kelly Lea, and Stacy Kennelly)

We all want to feel loved and noticed in this world. We want to know that who we are and what we do really matters. We want personal attention from someone else. Regardless of our age or stage, we all want some form of a mentor—someone who cares about us, pushes us, and reminds us that we are not alone in this world.

Research overwhelmingly confirms this need, pointing to myriad positive outcomes in our personal, academic and occupational lives from a mentoring relationship. In fact, according to The National Mentoring Partnership, those who are mentored are:

  • 5 percent more likely to enroll in college
  • 78 percent more likely to volunteer regularly
  • 90 percent are interested in becoming a mentor
  • 130 percent more likely to hold leadership positions.


Mentoring by the Carson Design Team

At Carson Design, we have three staff members who have personally benefited from mentorship in their lives in the past and today seek ways to directly give back to the next generation of interior designers. Each one works through their alma maters to share from their years of experience and offer students guidance on their future careers in the commercial interior design field.

Julie Berry, president of Carson Design, has served on the Indiana State University Interior Architecture Advisory Board since 2003, primarily advising the faculty on changes in the industry that might necessitate changes to the program, as well as working with the president and vice president of IDEA—a collaboration of the institution’s IIDA, ASID, and NKBA groups—to extend feedback on student leadership initiatives and offer guidance on annual job shadowing and roundtable luncheon events

Also, Stacy Kennelly, interior architecture team lead at Carson Design, serves on the Advisory Board for Interior Design at Purdue University—periodically reviewing the school’s programming, evaluating students’ projects, and offering direct feedback to graduating seniors on their portfolios.

And finally, Kelly Lea, facility design team lead at Carson Design, works with the Ball State Summer Program—which introduces high school seniors to the interior design program—to facilitate a tour of our Indianapolis office visit. During that visit, Kelly showcases Carson Design projects, discusses current trends in the interior design field, and answers any students’ questions. In the past, Kelly has also assisted the Ball State Accreditation Board, performing portfolio reviews and helping students prepare for job interviews.

When the Mentors Were Mentees

The path toward mentorship flowed through a personal mentoring experience in each staff member’s life.

In fact, mentorship might just be the reason Julie leads Carson Design Associates today. During her senior year at Indiana State University, Julie was the student representative to the Interior Architecture Advisory Board, and, as part of this role, she asked a representative from Herman Miller to speak at a roundtable luncheon. Upon graduation, Julie sent her resume to this presenter who then forwarded it along to the local Herman Miller dealership, Officeworks, who then forwarded it along to Jack Carson. She then got a call from Jack about a job, and the rest is history.

For Stacy, it came through a professor in the Interior Design program. The pair’s first encounter took place during a campus tour at Purdue. At the time, Stacy wanted to pursue fashion design—which was not offered at Purdue at the time—and so this professor counseled Stacy to consider the field of interior design. The idea instantly clicked with Stacy. And over the course of her college career, Stacy recalls many moments where this professor stretched her beyond what seemed possible.

Kelly often recalls one powerful mentoring experience before her National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) examination, when a colleague shared lessons learned during his NCIDQ preparation. It was a moment that spurred Kelly on to do the same for others—whether they be students ready to step into the industry for the first time or long-time practitioners who are looking to take the next step in their careers. Having received direction spurs her on to share from her own experiences.

Why Mentoring Matters

Paying it forward or paying it back, the chance to give of their time, energy and experience means so much to all three team members.

“I have always enjoyed giving back and being able to share my experiences with others. It’s important to give perspective to what they’re doing. And there’s a lot that would’ve been nice to know. And I always look at things from that perspective. What do I wish somebody had told me?”

“I’m grateful to be able to share the different experiences I’ve had in my life so that it might benefit others. But honestly, mentorship enhances me as an individual and a professional as well. I learn a lot from the students. It’s a great way for me to stay in touch with how people think, what they’re doing, and how they’re taught. It helps me know how to be a better influence.”

“I love being able to share what I know and what I’ve learned through the years. It’s hard getting into the industry now, because there are so many applicants out there. And so it’s great to help others identify their passions and understand that there’s a place for them.”

Mentoring the next generation of interior designers takes many hours of volunteer service. But ask Julie, Stacy and Kelly, and they’re grateful to keep the cycle going.

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